Hi, I’m Sam and I’m a registered behavior technician at Achieve Beyond. Today, we are going to talk about sensory bins. Sensory bins are fun, hands-on, and provide children with the opportunity to explore and learn in a way that engages all of their senses. They’re especially great for children with autism, as they can be a calming activity that provides sensory input, can improve fine motor skills, and increase opportunities for learning and exploring.
What You Need to Make a Sensory Bin
Your first step is to find a bin. Clear bins work well, but anything you could find that will hold materials without leaking or breaking is ideal. A bin with a lid is perfect for closing it up and use it again later.
You can use anything as your base in a sensory bin. You can use sand, water beads, aquarium rocks, uncooked beans, rice, or pasta, shredded paper, shaving cream, and even water. If you have a child that likes to put things in their mouth, be cautious using small materials, such as beans or a small pasta. If you have a child that loves playing with the water at the sink when they are washing their hands, consider using water to maybe demonstrate a more appropriate water-based activity. Choose materials that work best for your child.
Steps to Make a Sensory Bin
First, you’ll pour your base into the bin. I’m going to pour my pasta. I poured all my pasta into the bin, and then you can go and get your fun little toys to put in. I have a spoon so you could scoop it. I have a little bowl they could scoop the pasta in. And I have a little cup. If you have any little toys, you can put them in your sensory bin and hide it under your base and then see if you can have your child find it. You can use things found in your home, or you can go to the store.
If your child is hesitant to touch the contents of your sensory bin with their hands, add measuring cups or bowls, spoons, or even tongs, any utensil that the child can use to scoop and play with until they feel more comfortable using their hands.
Your final step before you go ahead and let your child play with the bin is finding the perfect location. Sensory bins can be really messy if you don’t plan ahead. Put newspaper down, a tablecloth, a tarp, or bring the sensory bin outside.
Benefits of a Sensory Bin
While playing with the sensory bin, you and your child can work on increasing communication, counting, sorting, and even imitation skills. Have your child imitate what you do or count and sort the different colored materials in the bin. Use this opportunity to teach your child new words or increase their manding and tacting repertoire. Pick up different things in your bin and ask them what it is, or hold materials they want until they verbally request them.
A sensory bin is not only a calming activity for our children, but can also provide countless learning opportunities.